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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 05/25/2010

D.C. Council considers commuter tax

By Washington Post editors

The D.C. Council is poised to take up a change to the city charter that would clear the way to impose a commuter tax on most city government workers including teachers and principals, public safety personnel and administrative and blue-collar workers — who do not live in the city, The Washington Times reports.

The measure could present challenges to several D.C. agencies whose ranks are filled with residents of the city's suburbs.

The proposed commuter tax, which the council is likely to take up Wednesday, is expected to generate $70 million. Past suggestions of a commuter tax by city officials have sparked angry protests from surrounding jurisdictions.

D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. said he is proposing the District Tax Dollars Fairness Act of 2010 because 70 percent of the D.C. government work force lives outside the city's limits. That 70 percent represents earnings of more than $1 billion that it is out of the reach of D.C. tax laws, he said.

By Washington Post editors  | May 25, 2010; 10:50 AM ET
 
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Comments


YES!

Posted by: tcs1999 | May 25, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

maybe one day this can be referred to as what it is, a reciprocity tax. All States have it with their neighboring states.

Posted by: InquiringMind1 | May 25, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Well, folks should recognize this isn't true commuter tax. This tax would only apply to people whose salaries are paid for by directly by DC Gov, but who live outside the district..like DC Firefighters who live in MD etc.

I think this is a good step and should have been implemented decades ago, but it doesn't excuse the DC Council from getting their ridiculous spending under control.

The DC budget has doubled in the last 9 years. The City has dozens of new departments that didn't even exist 5 years ago. You can make arguments for these expenditures when times are good and the city is benefiting from a budget surplus, but they aren't necessary and should have been the first to go when times turned bad.

Everyone in the city has to share the fiscal pain. So far, the only people to experience it have been the upper 5% of the citys earners who continue to have to pay for a host of city expansion and welfare programs that have continued to expand without delay.

The true commuter tax that DC has tried to implement a few times and more than 40 cities in the nation have now would tax each and every MD and VA resident who works in DC but lives outside it, opening DC to collecting nearly a billion dollars a year in additional revenue.

Posted by: Nosh1 | May 25, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

What a lousy idea -- the tax revenue gained will be offset by pressure to increase salaries to continue to attract workers or by even lower levels of service quality because the better workers go elsewhere.

Do we really care if a DC resident is picking up my trash? I understand someone like Peter Nickels being a DC resident. But for 90-99% of city employees it's irrelevant.

Posted by: ah___ | May 25, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

YES! Most local government jobs require you to live in the locality that is employing you....

Posted by: igotstripes | May 25, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The problem with requiring that the folks performing the government jobs actually live here in DC is that a good number of them, especially those on the low end, simply can't afford it. When I lived PG County, I knew plenty of city workers who started in low-end city jobs while living in SE or NE, but then as they moved up in their positions, they moved to the county. It was a far more affordable option than a better neighborhood inside the city, and safer than where they started. I don't think its fair to single these folks out, rather than to tax everyone who commutes in, city worker or not. However, commenter Nosh1 is absolutely correct, we have a ridiculous spending problem in the city, which should be reigned in first before imposing new taxes.

Posted by: thebossman | May 25, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

With 70% of the workforce living outside of the city, it stands to reason DC does not have enough qualified people to fill the slots. Be glad--and grateful--that these workers patronize businesses while working within the city's limits. I've certainly "patronized" the DC Treasury with more than a fair share of parking ticket fines. Consider us even.

Posted by: Is_this_thing_on | May 25, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Maryland and Virginia will simply "reciprocate" by taxing DC residents who work in their states. Marion Barry tried this a few times and it never worked.

Posted by: melador | May 25, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Council realizes how much money these folks spend during their workday. Many of the small businesses make it only because of the workers who come into D.C., and the city gets tax revenue from that.

Posted by: jckdoors | May 25, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Long overdue. This is probably fairer than my preferred solution which would be make them all live in DC. Bringing these people back to the city would; 1) bring more accountability for what they do since they need to live with the consequences and not run off to the 'burbs, and 2) improve a lot more neighborhoods by driving up demand for good housing.

Posted by: blankspace | May 25, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

This will be struck down by Congress as its previous iterations have. So, its actually costing us money as DC council employees are now pointlessly debating it.

And, in response to a previous poster that the city is too expensive to live in, there are vast areas of the city that are dirt cheap but way too violent and dangerous for most people to want to live in, except people with no choice or deep roots. That too is the councils fault, in partnership with the mayor, in my opinion.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | May 25, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

what this tax is going to do is let the liberal puke city council members give more welfare to the poor crackhead welfare recipient that doesnt want to work and wants to sit home and use drugs and alcohol all day and make more babies for more govt money.

Posted by: jdoe725 | May 25, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

About time... I never understood how you can work for DC gov and be paid by DC gov and then pay taxes to MD and VA...Isn't that a form of pimping...LOL... Why not a commuter tax especially since VA is placing Tole booths every where...

Posted by: pusha-d | May 25, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Does this mean the District Columbia is now in favor of taxation without representation. Ironic.

Posted by: cbjornson | May 25, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Is there anything these guys won't tax? This reign of madness won't end until they pass a tax on passing taxes.

Posted by: zippyspeed | May 25, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

maybe if DC didn't have the nation's worst schools, highest crime rates, and most inefficient services, they'd get more folks to move in.

Posted by: tttttttt1 | May 25, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

DC needs to do something to recoup money from those that use our streets, services, etc. It is a good place to start!

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | May 25, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Unless I missed something, DC doesn't have a problem with people moving or remaining here. DC seems to have a problem with how its nonresidents cry foul when "commuter tax" is mentioned even though they pay do not one DIME for the maintenance of our roads. What they do want to do is whine and moan and make ridiculous suggestions about what DC will do with the income from the taxes.

I say, don't worry about what DC will do and if you have a problem w/paying DC taxes, then don't work in DC. I wonder do Long Island commuters pay NYC taxes?

Posted by: dcis1 | May 25, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Unless I missed something, DC doesn't have a problem with people moving or remaining here. DC seems to have a problem with how its nonresidents cry foul when "commuter tax" is mentioned even though they pay do not one DIME for the maintenance of our roads. What they do want to do is whine and moan and make ridiculous suggestions about what DC will do with the income from the taxes.

I say, don't worry about what DC will do and if you have a problem w/paying DC taxes, then don't work in DC. I wonder do Long Island commuters pay NYC taxes?

Posted by: dcis1 | May 25, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

It's the end of the line for Ward 9!

Posted by: blankspace | May 25, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Is_this_thing_on

Its would be more accurate to assume that where your live there arent't any good paying jobs so you come to DC for a job instead of assuming DC does not have qualified people. Spoken like a true outsider who knows nothing about DC except what they see on the Fox News at 10 crime reports. I bet DC has more qualified people and jobs than your home town does. Otherwise you would be living and working there instead of DC. Think about it. You need DC, DC does not need you.

Posted by: ged0386 | May 25, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

and to tttttttt1 don't forget that one in every 20 DC residents statistically are HIV positive or are living with the AIDS virus. Has a nice ring to it huh. Nice place to raise babies.

Posted by: kiboo | May 25, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

maybe if DC didn't have the nation's worst schools, highest crime rates, and most inefficient services, they'd get more folks to move in.

Posted by: tttttttt1 | May 25, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse


Maybe if you had dynamite for brains you could blow your nose. From what I see, yuppie suburbanites like you are breaking your necks and paying big bucks to live here. Shows you know nothing about what you speak of. Also shows you dont read very much, you just assume you are right in what you think because it sounds good to you. Where did you get your facts, from one of your drinking buddies? DC is not the nations highest crime rate, it does not have the worst schools or the worst services. It does have however the dumbest bloggers in the region. Your blog as evidence.

Posted by: ged0386 | May 25, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

and to tttttttt1 don't forget that one in every 20 DC residents statistically are HIV positive or are living with the AIDS virus. Has a nice ring to it huh. Nice place to raise babies.

Posted by: kiboo |


Is that why you travel in all that traffic to your job here? If you dont like DC stay your dumb yuppie arse out. We dont need you here. Nor do we need your approval. Go back to your dead, no jobs having date your cousin home town you came from. We dont like your kind here anyway.

Posted by: ged0386 | May 25, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

what this tax is going to do is let the liberal puke city council members give more welfare to the poor crackhead welfare recipient that doesnt want to work and wants to sit home and use drugs and alcohol all day and make more babies for more govt money.

Posted by: jdoe725 | May 25, 2010 3:57 PM


Do people ever change their thought process. Most of the people in DC work. Maybe in your trailer trash home town they sit at home, and do meth and drink. How would you know the difference between a welfare crack addict and a member of your family unless you been around both? Just more stereotyping by miserable ignorant suburban yuppies to darn scared to go anywhere besides their jobs and home. Whenever I see a post that starts of with liberal puke and ends with welfare crack moms having babies i already know they are some dumb assss suburban redneck with a political agenda and racial hangups to go with it. Please stay with your own kind. DC is way to progressive and diverse for you. Perhaps Prince William County is better.

Posted by: ged0386 | May 25, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic sububan yuppies who hate DC because they are slaves to a job in DC so they can pay for their suburban life. Dont you love that beltway commute to the city? You can listen to Rush Limbaugh all the way in. Too bad there are no jobs where you actually live. But until then happy commuting. And instead of bad mouthing DC you should be happy the city provides your sorry butts with a job and a place for happy hour.

Posted by: ged0386 | May 25, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

I think most who support this truly don't understand how much DC relies on Maryland and Virginia. I also have to wonder if people are so naive that they fail to realize that the laws that govern DC ultimately will have to be approved by representatives from Maryland and Virginia. Do you really think this will garner support? Do you really think the people who make these horrendous commutes will support this? Do you really think the communities that help support the DC metro will support this additional tax? Playing the devi's advocate, this could potentially lead to an argument that DC should now shoulder the burden for the entire WMATA- something that it does not currently do.

Before looking for tax revenue, the DC counsel should objectively analyze the ramifications of their actions. For DC, it seems its fortunes are too closely tied to the fortunes (and generosity) of Maryland and Virginia, who have the ability to retaliate with reciprocal taxes aimed directly at DC residents. At the end of the day, a city government should be cautious of taxing the hands that feed and support them- something this tax appears to be attempting. I am only trying to point out that there could be negative ramifications that could prove more costly than what the tax could utimately generate. Realistically, DC is not on the same ground as Philadelphia or other cities that have enacted the commuter tax. They do not answer to Congress nor must they rely on funding from two States for certain support systems. Again, this should be considered with the absolute realization that the consequences could far outweigh any benefit derived from a commuter tax.

Posted by: devilsadvocate3 | May 26, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

This is less restrictive than what most municipalities do, which is require you to live there if you work for the municipality. To people who say these workers support shops etc. if they lived here they would support more shops etc AND pay taxes. The question is why we don't require them to live here and be done with it.

Posted by: leeindc1 | May 26, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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